I was a young girl, when my family moved to west Texas after a two-year stint in South America. The Texas plains were a drastic change from the lush, tropical forests of Venezuela. The Gulf Oil Company (later bought out by Warren Petroleum) built a gas refinery, three miles outside of a tiny German town by the name of Winters. The community was ill equipped to harbor newly arrived oil field workers with decent housing.
With much trepidation, we rented a small wood-framed house about two blocks from an old cemetery. For reasons unknown, the local citizenry had ceased to bury their dead there, but it was an active place, where strange looking little kids used coffins for sand boxes. Somehow disturbed by an underground force, the rotten wood crates protruded in helter-skelter fashion, at the southwest corner of the cemetery. The children would stop and stare at me on my way to and from school. As I quick-stepped past them and their unorthodox playpens, I held my books close to my chest and held my head down to avoid their hollow eyes. My mother insisted they were harmless. I knew they were dead, and was not afraid of them, but playing in a casket was not my idea of fun.
My mother said she and I had the “sight.” In time, I realized the sight could cause pure joy or shear horror, depending on how I used it. Then there was the “artsy” part of me. Sometimes it caused more grief than the sight. Surely, dear reader, you have noticed how artists are in a world of their own. Well, they cannot help themselves; it is their calling to be different. Trust me on this one.
My Blackfoot heritage had something to do with the two gifts. The lineage came down through my mother’s side of the family. My grandmother was a sweet, kind, old woman. She wore her long, gray hair braided in a bun, at the nape of her neck, and had the sweet smell of “snuff” in her kisses. Mam Maw, as I called her, did not talk much about the supernatural—that was something my mother was obliged to do.
In the mid-sixties, Warren Petroleum moved the gas plant to the Uintah Basin, in Utah. In that extraordinary land of mystery, the “sight” grew in strength, as did my passion for painting Native Americans. Now, I am writing about them. I also learned to refine the sight, if there was a need, to protect a loved one or myself.
I graduated from Uintah High School. My experience with the primarily Mormon students, was fascinating. They were open and welcoming to this odd, southern girl from Texas. There was never a hint of bigotry.
Armed with art and writing scholarships in my proverbial pocket, I attended Utah State University, College of Southern Utah, and Arizona State University. I fell in love with a handsome, dynamic sailor, who was one of thousands of young soldiers caught up in the Vietnam War. We eventually married and settled in Salt Lake City.
Through the seventies, I was engaged in my artwork. He chose law enforcement as a career and became an expert witness with breathalyzers. We had a beautiful daughter. My husband’s position required his traveling around the state for court duty and certifying the breathalyzer instruments. In September of 1978, my husband, our daughter, and I made a trip to the Basin to visit family. In those days, the Utah Highway Patrol permitted us to ride with him in his patrol car when he was called to testify in the Uintah Basin courts. On one fateful trip, we were involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. It was, indeed, ironic. There were serious injuries, and I was confined to a wheelchair.
I had a premonition of the accident, but could do nothing about it, which is often the case with such things. As a matter of fact, prior to the accident, I had been selected by Westminster College to engage in a study of other people, who were paranormal, and could document the premonitions that came to fruition. The program was intended to test whether gifted individuals could combine their unique premonitions like a puzzle, and form a larger picture of an upcoming event. With the onslaught of the accident, it was a missed opportunity.
As is always the case, a collision of that magnitude changed everything in our lives. There were other, more sinister dangers lying beneath the surface. PTSD or agent orange was not known or understood in proper society. In retrospect, these demons plagued my husband, along with the accident, and played a major role in destroying what had been a wonderful marriage. Due to his injuries, law enforcement was out of the question, so he changed his direction to that of detective for a local law firm, then later to business. He owned and managed the popular local bar, The Gateway Saloon.
Things happen. Life is what it is; my husband and I navigated through the rough waters, maintaining a close relationship. But, as a single mom, I was compelled to leave Utah’s Uintah Basin in the early eighty’s, due to a stagnant economy. By that time, I had been a successful western artist, published freelance writer, and owned an art studio. A steady income was needed to support my little girl, so the two of us moved down south, to be closer to family members.
I took advantage of my technical illustration skills, which paradoxically, helped propel me into a configuration management career in the Department of Energy’s nuclear program. In fact, I developed and instituted the first formal process in the D.O.E. complex. In spite of my success, I yearned to return to the thrilling, combined world of literature, paranormal intrigue, and imagination. After twenty-six years, I retired and happily moved back to the Basin, with all its spine-chilling strangeness.
With dream realized, I wrote and produced “The Fox Fire News,” a parody magazine. I am now authoring adult fantasy/science fiction novels. “A Dark Feather Novel” is the series’ title of my books. “Summer of Stolen Souls” was the first novel written; “Cradle of the Water Babies” is the second; “In the Shadow of Bones” will be the third installment.
I am known to some as “Ronnie,” own a home in the Uintah Basin, along with my dog, Gizmo, and a small school of koi and goldfish. My spectacular daughter lives within minutes of my garden hideaway. She owns and operates two popular bars, Little B’s and The Gateway Saloon. Using the fictitious name, “The Green Door Bar,” Little B’s is the source of inspiration that I used as an enchanted building in the first two novels. The Uintah Basin is full of such wonders.
Life is good.